In silico evaluation of the downstream effect of mutated glucagon is consistent with higher blood glucose homeostasis in Galliformes and Strigiformes

In contrast to mammals, glucagon is reported as a much more potent blood glucose modulator in birds. Interestingly, we have found p.Thr16Ser mutation, a variation in the highly conserved glucagon hormone, in Galliformes as well as Strigiformes. To check the effect of this mutation on the receptor binding of glucagon, we predicted the ancestral glucagon receptor sequence of all available Galliformes and Strigiformes species. Subsequently, we analysed their binding to the mutated and wild type glucagon (ancestral) by molecular dynamics simulation. At first, we made a model of ancestral glucagon receptor and ancestral mutated, and wild type glucagon in the order Galliformes and Strigiformes. Then we performed molecular dynamics for each Galliformes and Strigiformes receptor as well as each glucagon peptide, respectively. The final structures were used for docking simulation of glucagon to their receptors. The results of the docking simulations showed a stronger binding affinity of mutated glucagon to glucagon receptors. Afterward, we obtained blood glucose concentrations of all available Galliformes members, as well as all available members of its only taxonomic neighbour (order Anseriformes) in superorder Galloanserae. Interestingly the p.Thr16Ser mutation could finely cluster these two orders into two groups: higher blood glucose concentration (order Galliformes, 17.64 ± 1.66 mMol/L) and lower blood glucose concentration (order Anseriformes, 11.34 ± 1.11 mMol/L). Strigiformes which carry the mutated glucagon peptide show also high blood glucose concentrations (17.40 ± 1.51 mMol/L). Therefore, the results suggest this mutation, which leads to stronger binding affinity of mutated glucagon to its receptor, may be a driving force for higher blood glucose homeostasis in the related birds.

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